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History of the “Old Boys” of Southend High School

History - EY History

Youngest Soldier

History of the “Old Boys” of Southend High School.

The following information was collected together by Edward Baker whilst working on a history of Southend High School Old Boys. Most of the documents have been reproduced by kind permission of the family.

Cecil is a particularly tragic Old Boy as he is the youngest to die at only 16 and one of the first to be killed in May 1915. Below is information from the Southend-on-sea & District Roll of Honour Book, it’s not totally correct as he joined a local insurance company first.

CATTELL, 1026 Trooper Cecil Hubert Cray, Essex Yeomanry. Trooper Cattell was born at West Ham and lived at 19, Leighton Avenue, Leigh-on-Sea, and was a former pupil of the Southend Boy's High School. He was the youngest soldier in the Essex Yeomanry, having enlisted on 4th August 1914 whilst at the High School, aged 15. He was killed in a charge near Potijze, Ypres on 13th [14th] May 1915, aged 16. See Southend Standard 17.6.1915, obit: 1.7.1915, photo.

Cecil at home in Leigh

Cecil Cattell’s letters home

 

Headquarters Staff

Essex Yeomanry

Melton

Suffolk

25.9.14

Dear Liza & Vi

At last I am going to write to you to thank you for that very nice cake which you so very kindly sent me a few days ago. We are still lying at this dull hole & I don’t think we shall move for some time.

Thursday I went to Ipswich to meet Gidge & Ma. He took us in a motor to Felixtowe to see Kitcheners Army there. Whole streets of houses & hotels on the front (empty) they are sleeping in. Ma & Pa are thinking of staying down here soon & have asked me to get particulars of apartments for them.

I was very sorry to hear how poor old Perro is, going blind they say, but, of course, we must remember that he is very old & it must come soon now, poor old chap.

How are the girls & all the Palmerston & Hamifrithers, give Elsie & the kids my love, tell her I will write soon. How are James & Rez, still gay & hearty, ehm!

Ever your affectionate grandson & nevvy

Cecil

 

With mates at Melton

On the back of postcard, photo Cecil3, postmarked 5 Oct 1914, Melton

Dear Rita,

Here are some of my friends who live with me here. How are all at home going! Give them my love from Minley (Signature a guess as it very faint almost erased)

Addressed to: Miss R Saady, 1 Palmerston Rd, Forest Gate, London

 

Headquarters Staff

Essex Yeomanry

Melton

Suffolk

3.11.14

Dear Liza & Vi,

Thanks very much for the kind present of cake which I duly received a few days ago. It is a treat indeed to taste Vi’s cakes they want a lot of eating. Enclosed you will find the postcard you wanted when I was home last, better late than never.

You will be pleased to hear that I do not sleep in that barn any longer but am now billeted out in a house & sleep in a bed with another chap from Southend who works for the Vet also. How does Manure Park look now? Still as lively as usual & how are all those at 1 Palmerston? Tell them that “I am all gay & hearty 7 that I hopes as ‘aw they are the same”

The excitement of being moved to another billet has made a very agreeable bit of a break in the monotony of this miserable dull hole, it is a pippy place but there are some of the prettiest walks imaginable in the country round about.

The Vet. has asked me to go abroad with him as his servant he says he does not know when he may have to go but thinks it will not be until next February.

Hoping that you both are enjoying the greatest of health & happiness

I remain,

Your loving grandson & nephew

Cecil

 

Hq Ex Yeo

8th Bgde

3rd Cav Divn

B.E.F.

17.2.15

Dear Liza & Vi,

Thanks very much for your parcel which I rec’d two days ago, quite safely. I can tell you, we enjoyed it all, A1, but, at some future date, I would suggest that instead of a bakers cake, one of your own cakes is sent out, as we all of us appreciated your last effort in that line. How are you all at Manor Park & Forest Gate? As happy & healthy as ever I hope. I was also pleased to hear that Arthur is stronger & better & as for Jimmie tell him to buck up & not be downhearted, I am sure Elsie sets him a good example, they certainly are a lively crowd at Forest Gate.

I received a letter a few days ago from Arthur Turpin & he says that if it were not for the theatres etc, London would be a terrible place to live in just now, well, how about us, we have no theatre & we have nothing to read or do when we have finished work, which mercifully enough isnt often, or I think some of us would go mad, as it is it makes us very irritable, so if any time you are writing you would send along an old sixpenny novel it would be very acceptable & would be passed along till thumbed right away.

Pa sends me out the Standard regularly, but unfortunately, last week when I had put it by to read in an unoccupied moment, someone used it to light the fire which had gone out, I was annoyed & said so. How are all those “bewitching” damsels “the girls”, Hilda Nicholl, Millie Smith, & others Clara foot, Sacharissa Twentyman, Phyllis Morton & a few more I know.

Give my love to Elsie, Rez, James, Rita, John & Arthur & also to the Miss Berrys

I remain, your loving grandson & nephew

Cecil

 

General Family Letter

E. Y. Hqrs

7.3.15

Dear Vi,

Thanks very much for kind remembrance of my request. The books are very useful to us when we wish to pass a few idle minutes, rare enough, but when we did get them before, we were almost bored to death.

How is the old girl, sprightly & jolly as ever I’ll bet, she is a wonder, you’ll have to write to the papers about her. Tell her she is “ever present in my thoughts & that I wish I could come over to see her again”. And how are old Elsie & Rez & the family? I sincerely hope they are all well & going stronger than ever, always attended by the unregistered alien “Boy” (their dog). I should like you to remember me to Jimmie & Arthur, & to the Miss Berry’s & tell Arthur to buck up & get stronger yet.

Ma wrote the other day & said she was sure I was going through terrible hardships, whereas all the time I am living in, what is comparatively the lap of luxury, ( & enjoying it too). I can tell you I feel a frightful hypocrite when she writes like that, she must have been telling other people because Mrs “Shillingsworth” sent me out a beautiful woollen scarf a few days ago, quite an expensive thing I should imagine, which is quite wasted as the weather is quite warm & I have plenty of warm clothes.

Will you tell me all the Forest Gate news next time you write old girl, as it very interesting to me & I have not heard any for many moons.

t is raining like blazes today & I do not think it will pass over for a day or two, but we must not complain as we have not had very bad weather lately.

As I write our windows shake in their frames every now & again, I think it is caused by the frequent reports of the guns, many miles away.

Please excuse any more now as we lead a very dull & ordinary (only more muddy) life.

I remain, Your affectionate nevvy

Cecil

 

Tiptree Troop

“B” Squadron

Essex Yeomanry

B.E.F.

15.4.15

Dear Vi,

Thank you very much for your fine parcel which I duly received some days ago & which I have just found time to acknowledge, it came as a very pleasant reminder of last Easter & you may be sure it was duly appreciated.

You see above that the Firm has changed its address, & as it is shortly to be amalgamated with “B” Squadron Machine Gun Section “Ltd”, its offices are at the above address for a short time only. In fact I left Hqrs as a volunteer for this Section which is shortly to be formed & am at present employing my time in imbibing as much information about Machine Guns as my underdeveloped brain will allow me. I wrote & told Ma that I was in Tiptree Troop & returned to duty & she wrote back in much trepidation inquiring what I had done to be punished thus, whilst I am having a better time down here as a “ simple soldat” than I ever did at Hqrs. I am doing a bit of soldiering now, thats more than I was before, I feel twice as well, being more in the open air.

How is old “Liza” feeling now? I do hope the old “gal” is feeling all gay & hearty again, & Elsie too. I suppose the rest of Forest Gate crowd are all able to answer for themselves in that respect, I am sure Arthur is feeling more of himself again, & as for Jimmie, I cant imagine him (or Rez either) in anything else but good spirits. By the bye tell Rita that if she is a good girl she can hit Boy once on the head with the coke hammer to show how kind she is to animals. She must have to go some way to school now that Upton Lane is going to be closed. How does little John go on, is he he as happy & good as usual? Papa’s joy.

I hope Mr Filliams progresses, & is still a comfort to his numerous (& d— Liberal) congregation (I think when I come home I shall sport the Scarlet, I don’t think).

I understand Liza was down at Leigh for Easter, I hope she enjoyed herself, if I’d been there I’d have shaken up her old liver & made things hum a bit. I’d have given Pa the time of his life, it would have been a treat to have come home for Easter but of course leave is a thing of the past now. “Je ne reccorai pas encore de permission, jusqua ce que la guerre sera fini” how’s that, eh?

Please excuse any more at present as I have no more news or jaw & so must, of necessity conclude, with much love & all good wishes to all,

I remain, Your loving nephew

Cecil

 

Essex Yeomanry

8th Bgde

3 Cav Divn

B.E.F.

8.5.15

Dear Liza & Vi

Thanks very much for your kind letter which I duly received two days ago. I was very pleased to hear that you are all going on well again, I can see that you had been too much on the bustle again. If she does it any more, Vi, put her down the cellar & turn the key on her. I expect that Vi is pining away slowly away, no Wales, or Sybils, or Llew (shut up) for quite a long time now, but I expect correspondence is a lot more regular than mine.

How do Manure Park & Forest Gate look now? I wish I could come over & have a look round to find time to visit the old City once more, as for Leigh - well.

We have had a very busy time lately rushing about all over the place. I’ve seen more in the last fortnight than I have seen ever since I have been out here & I am jolly glad now that I never joined an infantry regiment, they have a rotten time.

Good old Jimmie, he must be a good long distance marcher, but it becomes a different thing with an infantry pack on your back as I have seen. The accuracy of firing is not much account just now for the rank & file for if you show your head above the trench top a sniper is sure to get you, but all the same you never know when you may want to use such a gift & it is a great asset.

I hope Arthur is feeling stronger, this fine summer weather will do him a lot of good if he takes it quietly. I suppose Rita & John are enjoying all their usual health & happiness & I hope Elsie & Rez are sprightly too. Give them all my love, I should like to see them all together at Leigh

I remain, your loving grandson & nevvy

Cecil

PS It is very kind of you to talk of sending a parcel it will be very acceptable break as we have been faring mostly on bully & biscuits lately.

PPS What do you think of these envelopes

(The envelopes were special thin ones, headed On Active Service, and the writer had to sign on the back , I certify on my honour that the contents of this envelope refer to nothing but private and family matters. Being thin, letters were written on very thin paper)

This letter was written 5 days before Cecil was killed.

Cutting from a local paper.

“We are very sorry to hear that Cecil Hubert Cattell, son of Mr H R T Cattell, of 19 Leighton Avenue, who has been out at the front for the past eight months, has been reported wounded and missing. Young Cattell is an old “Tech” boy and, though only 15 years of age, joined the Essex Yeomanry soon after the commencement of the war. He went out with his regiment in October, and having volunteered for the gun section, was sent forward to Ypres, where such heavy fighting has been taking place. It is to be hoped that this brave young soldier is still alive, and that Mr and Mrs Cattell will shortly hear that he is being cared for in hospital.”

 

Letter from the CO

Dear Madam

In reply to your letter of May 27 I very much regret to have to tell you that I fear there is no doubt whatever that your son was killed on May 13th as I have now ascertained that he was seen to be dead.

I had no idea your son was so young but it may be of some consolation to you to know that he died fighting like a man & a soldier.

Assuring you of my deepest sympathy in the terribly sad loss you have sustained

Yours faithfully

E A Ruggles-Brise

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